Unconstant Conjunction latest posts

Not All Population Maps Are Boring

As the venerable xkcd comic points out, unadjusted geographic data often ends up looking like a population map. Normally, this makes it kind of boring, since it doesn’t tell you anything new.

Except, of course, when a visualizing the population is exactly what you had in mind. I discovered recently that the Australian government keeps track of every public toilet in the country, for example — and what better way is there to learn about Australian geography than through such an important public utility?

Australia, In Public Toilets

As usual, the remainder of this post is a technical discussion of how I created the graphic above. It was a neat opportunity to make use of hexbinning, and I’m quite fond of the end result. I haven’t yet figured out a way to add a “shadow” made of hexagons to indicate the overall shape of Australia, though I would like to. The fully reproducible code can be found in my visualization repository on Github.

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Visualizing Health Expenditure using Spie Charts (and R)

Continuing with the theme of my last post, I wanted to put an interesting visualization together using some publically available data. The result is the following (somewhat surprising) graphic:


One of the looming issues in Canadian public policy is how to address the fact that our population is ageing, and that this will mean a larger burden on many of the social services that are more heavily consumed by those who are older. But just how uneven is the consumption of health services? The above should give you some idea of why this is viewed as a looming problem.

The remainder of this post is a technical discussion of how I created the visualization. I’m not quite satisfied with the overall approach (I think it takes quite a while before you can really read the graphic), but it does serve as a good technical demonstration of what can be accomplished in R.

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Choropleth Maps with R and ggplot2

This post is meant to be a short intro on how to create visualizations like the following using R and ggplot2:


Update (February 6, 2017): I’ve updated the content of this post to be much more modern, taking advantage of developments in the spatial package ecosystem and in the capabilities of ggplot2.

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Fiddling Around with DEA Models

Measuring performance is a tricky business. Two of the most annoying drawbacks of applying regression analysis (as used in most simple econometric approaches) to these kinds of problems are the requirement to specify a functional form for the production function (which we can wave away by admitting that our results are only a “best linear approximation” that work around the mean) and the inability to measure the impact of inputs on several outputs similtaneously. Continue Reading →

Managing Complex Research Workflows with Make

If you’re doing any kind of empirical work in Economics, you probably have a huge, messy folder containing a mix of

  • Data files (.csv, .dta, .xlsx, etc.) in various states of merge-ness and cleanliness.
  • Scripts for creating graphs & figures, producing summary statistics, and computing models. Probably written for Stata, R, or the Pandas data stack1.
  • Files containing written work. These are usually .doc(x) files, but I’ve seen lots of LaTeX lately as well, and being a plain-text format, this is a huge boon to reproducible research.

A really simple research workflow (start with data, make some figures, make some summary statistics, and run some models) might look like the following:

An Econ Workflow

But of course that’s not clear when looking at the .zip file you send your coauthor.

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